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The Ghost Road (The regeneration trilogy) Paperback – 4 Jul 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Paperback, 4 Jul 1996
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (4 July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140236287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140236286
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 593,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

An extraordinary tour de force. I'm convinced that the trilogy will win recognition as one of the few real masterpieces of late 20th-century British fiction (Jonathan Coe) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

1918, and Billy Prior is in France once again, a real test case for the 'shell-shock' therapies practised at Craiglockhart War Hospital where, with Wilfred Owen, he was a patient. Prior experiences a late-summer idyll, some days of perfect beauty, before the final battles in a war that has destroyed most of his generation. In London, Prior's psychologist, William Rivers, tends to his new patients, more young men whose lives and minds have been shattered. And remembers the primitive society on Eddystone Island where he studied as an anthropologist before the war. Gathering together both experiences, he sees the gulf between them narrow… Challenging and harrowing, brilliantly incisive yet always compassionate, Pat Barker's Booker Prize winning novel is magnificent listening.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy begins with 1991's 'Regeneration', is followed by 1993's 'The Eye in the Door' and ends with 'The Ghost Road' in 1995. I read them back-to-back in 2011 and, even though I expected the trilogy to improve on the phenomenal start it made with 'Regeneration' - considering 'The Eye in the Door' won the Guardian Fiction Prize and 'The Ghost Road' won the Booker Prize while `Regeneration didn't win any prizes - I found it actually became less engaging and less focused with each book, particularly with the final book.
All three books are set during World War I. 'Regeneration' focuses on the war poet Siegfried Sassoon as he recovers from shell-shock in a war hospital in Scotland and is treated by Dr Rivers (who is the main character throughout the trilogy); 'The Eye in the Door' is based more on life in the UK during the war, looking at the issues facing homosexual men and those sheltering deserters and/or pacifists; while 'The Ghost Road' sees Billy Prior, a soldier who was in the war hospital in 'Regeneration' and involved heavily in 'The Eye in the Door', return to the war front. This final book is split between Prior's accounts of the war, Dr Rivers's work in a war hospital and Rivers's flashbacks/recollections of his early anthropological studies among a tribal culture.
The main themes binding the books are the sense of futility and hopelessness that drove soldiers to insanity; the emasculating effects of being stuck in a trench (or any place) where you are ordered to do things and have your fate taken out of your own hands.
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Format: Paperback
The field of First World War novels may be a crowded one, but in 'The Ghost Road', Pat Barker is by no means overshadowed. Her subtle blending of fact and fiction allows her to convey every aspect of the war effectively from two perspectives: the psychological impact of it on those deeply involved, and wider view: how it affected social and mental barriers, inciting probing questions into the value of our own morality.
On the surface, we are presented with a seemingly straightforward negative account of the war, most prolifically in its impact on the two central characters, Prior and Rivers, who serve as the focus for the narrative throughout the book (the latter stages even being told directly from Prior's diary entries). However, upon a deeper reading, endless social judgements emerge, directed against every aspect of our society, along with predictable passes at the class system, which allowed the upper classes, and in particular, aristocratic army generals to distance themseves from the suffering endured by the men. Barker cleverly utilises a complex narrative which in itself would satisfy a reader, and saturates it with ambiguous, apparently descriptive yet deeply symbolic references, to the deepest political and philosophical issues.
Despite these being perhaps cliched themes, especially so considering the context, they are presented in such a way that makes them have a powerful impact on the reader, the sustained flatly harrowing tone, one of almost casual sadism, being as intriguing as it is grotesque. The opening line: 'In deck chairs all along the front the bald pink knees of Bradford businessmen nuzzled the sun' demonstrates this, the symbolism inherent here indicative of the way Barker starts as she means to go on.
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By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
I may be in a minority here when I say that I found this to be the most powerful and profoundly moving book in the trilogy. In this book the sympathetic psychologist Dr W H R Rivers becomes one of the most noble figures of moden literature. Anyone who has undergone counselling or indeed practices counselling will find this book and its predecessors fascinating. It has a resounding ring of truth to it. Billy Prior the shell shocked Officer from a humble background who struggles both with his background and his wounded mind is a fascinating subject for Rivers. But the relationship becomes far deeper than that. It is almost the love between Father and son. River's recollections of his time in the Soloman Islands living with those simple people is a quite brilliant idea. It highlights the ills with society that would cause such injuries to the mind. Amongst the Soloman Islanders such behaviour was beyond their simple understanding of the world. Their happiness contrasting vividly to the woes of post war Britain.

This most moving and eloquent of books is a fitting ending for this monumental trilogy. It is also a humbling elegy for all those forgotten victims of the war and their families, who suffered misery as deadly as any bullet could inflict. Essential reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although this is a fictional book several real people do feature. It really brings home the true nature of the 1st World War and shows the courage these men had. It illustrates that people who suffer mental health problems due to traumatic experiences are not weak, and that sometimes it is the only way to cope.
It shows us how different cultures view death. Is it always terrible or sometimes are there worse things that can happen. Are all who die peaceful?
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